Monday, September 03, 2007
It's uncommon for a horror comic story to have a background in historical events, but this story, "All The King's Men," from Amazing Ghost Stories #15, has just that.
From what I've been able to research on Henri Christophe, king of Haiti, I wouldn't recommend using this story as the basis of a high school term paper, but it gives the story something exotic. Setting a story in Haiti without it being expressly about voodoo seems almost sacrilegious. Voodoo is practically the exclusive reason for stories set in Haiti. However, the comic is called Amazing Ghost Stories, and this story does have some voodoo, but the historical background using Haiti's only king is what drives the plot.
The Citadelle, shown in the story, actually exists, and is shaped like a ship, just like the character claims and the artwork shows. Unlike the story, in the encyclopedia entries I read, Christophe committed suicide using a silver bullet, not a gold bullet. Maybe he thought he was a werewolf.
The artwork is by the excellent Bob Powell, whose artwork is up to its usual high standards. St. John was the publisher of this comic, which was the continuation of the title Nightmare, and ran for three issues on its own, just before the Comics Code was implemented in 1955.
The cover is by Matt Baker, and has a voodoo theme, although it appears unrelated to this story.
Some publishers, St. John included, appear to have been spooked by the witch hunt against comics, and anticipated the Code by toning down their comics. This story probably would not have appeared in a post-Code title without some changes, but it isn't as gory as it could have been for the time it was published. The main character is a typical horror comics character, though: an irredeemable killer who gets what's coming to him.